Lessons from Hurricane Florence: Building a Resilient Raleigh


A few weeks ago, a friend texted me to say he lost everything to flooding from Hurricane Florence. His house, which is near the Cape Fear River north of Wilmington, took on nearly five feet of water -- more than Hurricane Matthew just two years earlier.

While my heart was broken for my friend, it prompted me to think about what our local government should be doing to get ready. Two 500-year storms in three years is too much to ignore.

While the NC Legislature and Governor Roy Cooper focus on rebuilding and resiliency at the state level, I've been talking with experts to determine what the City of Raleigh can do to prepare for future storms as well as mitigate our role in climate change.

Here's what I proposed Tuesday and Council approved we do: 
1) Have our Stormwater Management Advisory Commission look into what it would mean to ban new development in the 100-year floodplain. We realize there will be challenges and environmental justice matters that we will need to address. 
2) Reaffirm our commitments to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming, as well as our own goals stated in the Comprehensive Plan related to climate change. We should soon learn more about the work staff is doing on the Community Climate Action Plan and what is already in the works so that we can make sure our actions match our goals.

In addition, it's worth noting that the transportation sector is now the single largest source of pollution emissions in NC. I believe it is Council's responsibility to continue to push Raleigh to be a people-centered, not car-centered community. We should be doing all we can to embrace and champion transit, walking, biking, and yes - even scooting. There IS more we can do as a city to make our community more resilient, healthy, and sustainable. The time to act is now.